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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 19, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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eely. it's the gear to play to the max. ♪ pampers cruisers. now with bonus diapers in every box! ♪ on the broadcast tonight, the world stage. a hugely important visitor from china at the white house. three u.s. presidents there to meet him and tensions visible above the surface. a new milestone for congresswoman gabby giffords. new details tonight about the next phase of her recovery. our new poll, americans are feeling differently about their president and their future. and 50 years after that famous speech, our exclusive interview tonight with caroline kennedy on her father's legacy and what her own children are saying about jfk. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television
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good evening. just before we went on the air tonight, we learned congresswoman gabby giffords stood up with assistance in her tucson hospital room today. this comes on top of the news lp from earlier today that she will be leaving the hospital to begin rehabilitation at another hospital in houston, texas, possibly by the end of this week, by friday. some stunning news out of that hospital room in tucson, arizona, tonight. it's where we begin with nbc's miguel almaguer. miguel, good evening. >> reporter: the congresswoman is making remarkable strides. as you mentioned, just a few minutes ago doctors tell with us some assistance the congresswoman was able to stand up for the first time and look out the window at the mountains. when congresswoman gabrielle giffords is discharged, she'll go here, the memorial hermann hospital in houston, a world
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class facility specializing in brain injuries. the congresswoman's husband, mark kelly, will stay by her side. >> it's been hard to kind of wrap my head around this thing. what happened. what the future holds for her and for me. so i'll just take one day at a time. >> reporter: doctors say giffords' future will likely &ñ consist of months of rehabilitation. it's unclear if she'll be able to speak or walk any time soon. >> there's no question that the most difficult part of her recovery for her has yet to come. she's going to have to work very hard. every day she'll have to put in hour after hour trying to regain any function she might have lost. >> reporter: giffords will become the last victim to leave the hospital. a remarkable recovery. >> today we were getting her out of bed again and we were able to stand with assistance on her. she's got the strength to stand on her own, lift her head up and these are -- i see improvements every single day. >> she's injured, she lived, she's survived, she's going to
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recover. there's six folks that don't get that opportunity. >> reporter: the victims are remembered every day in this community. those well wishes that blanket the hospital lawn have made their way into hospital rooms. giffords' family says she's held many of the cards, even tracked their words with her unbandaged eye. 9-year-old isaac saldana didn't just write to giffords, he sent her $2.85. >> i started thinking about her and her in the hospital so i just wanted to like raise money and send it to her. >> reporter: meanwhile, investigators continue to analyze nearly two dozen surveillance videos, multiple angles of what's described as gruesome images of the shooting. first, congresswoman giffords is shot. next ron barber. judge john roll tries to shield barber from gunfire. barber survived. judge roll was killed. later this afternoon, investigators say they would no longer discuss that videotape.
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as for the suspect, 22-year-old jared lee loughner, he'll likely be in court tomorrow or friday to face a federal indictment and enter a plea. >> miguel, equally remarkable about the congresswoman, the fact that her hospital stay looks like will come to an end by the end of this week. they feel she can easily go through the rigors of jet airplane travel to houston, texas. >> reporter: yeah, brian. her doctors say she's making remarkable strides. she's hitting the benchmarks necessary to leave this hospital. they say obviously they wouldn't let her leave if she wasn't ready. they certainly believe she is close to that, brian. >> just astoundingly good news amid all the bad news they have had lately there in tucson, arizona. miguel, thanks. now we go to washington. it's been called the most important relationship between any two countries anywhere on earth right now. the u.s. and china. massive economic impact, huge differences between the two countries. so much on the line.
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and tonight the chinese president, hu jintao is in washington for talks with president obama, for a state dinner tonight with three american presidents in attendance. there were tensions visible earlier today between what the "wall street journal" called the world's long-time super power and its rising asian rival. what's happening right now in washington, enormously important for the u.s. let's go to our white house correspondent, savannah guthrie. savannah, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. like any relationship, this one is complicated. the president has been taking a tougher tack lately with china, making clear it doesn't want to contain china's economic rise but wants a level playing field for u.s. businesses and pushing china harder on human rights, an issue the chinese leader was unexpectedly frank about today. rolling out the red carpet, the u.s. treated china to all the pomp and pageantry that comes with a state visit, signaling the country's growing importance
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and influence, something the president said today americans h >> i absolutely believe that china's peaceful rise is good for the world and it's good for america. >> reporter: no longer a sleeping giant, china has the world's second largest economy, growing three times as fast as the u.s. it also holds nearly 11% of u.s. privately held debt, making it america's single biggest foreign investor. but the president today stressed the opportunity china represents for american businesses. >> we want to sell you all kinds of stuff. we want to sell you planes, we want to sell you cars, we want to sell you software. that offers opportunities for u.s. businesses, which ultimately translates into u.s. jobs. >> reporter: but american business leaders, some of whom came to the white house today, complained china isn't playing fair, keeping its currency artificially low so its goods are cheaper, effectively cutting u.s. companies out of lucrative
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markets, including competition for business with the chinese government, and turning a blind eye to rampant piracy of american software and entertainment in china. seeming to recognize their pr problem, the chinese bought advertising in new york's times square ahead of the visit. and as human rights demonstrators gathered outside the white house gates today, the chinese leader struck a more conciliatory tone. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: and the lock still needs to be down in china in terms of human rights. >> i have been very candid with president hu about these issues. occasionally they are a source of tension between our two governments. but we can engage and discuss these issues in a frank and candid way. >> reporter: the president is hosting president hu for a formal state dinner at the white house tonight. house speaker john boehner was invited, as were the republican
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and democratic leaders of the senate, but all of them declined to come. speaker boehner will meet with president hu tomorrow. >> i did look over the guest list which was closely held. at one end you've got herbie hancock, barbra streisand, james brolin, at the other, every major banker who's been in the news lately, and, again, a total of three u.s. presidents. >> reporter: yeah, from the world of politics, the world of entertainment. the president greeted president hu along with the first lady on the north portico of the white house tonight. you said it, we've got three presidents, clinton, carter and obama, former secretary of states kissinger and albright g new jersey governor, chris christie, and from the world of entertainment, michelle kwan, jackie chan, barbra streisand, vera wang, the designer, wearin3 what else, brian, vera wang. >> i guess that's par for the course. savannah, thanks, as always. in the midst of this visit by his high-level house guest, we know a lot more tonight about what americans think of their
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president right about now. tonight we're debuting our new nbc news/wall street journal poll. it shows a dramatic turn in opinion here lately. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd here to unveil the numbers for us. welcome. >> thank you, brian. what a move tomorrow. it's the two-year anniversary since obama took office. his job approval rating now sitting at 53%. this is the highest level it's been since july, 2009, the month before the health care debate took off and served as a drag for 18 straight months. now, three reasons why this number jumped up. number one, the president's handling of tucson. 74% approve of that and a lot had to do with the speech that he gave. number two, simple optimism about the economy and the future of america. 53% say over the next five years, things are going to get better. six months ago, it was 20 points lower. and then finally, how the president handled the lame duck congress. 55% believe the president is going to strike the right balance in dealing with republicans.
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but 55% believe the republicans are going to be too inflexible in dealing with the president. as our pollsters put it this morning, brian, going into the state of the union, the public is giving the president the benefit of the doubt. they're telling republicans you've got a burden of proof. >> and just today, kind of as we speak, the republicans in the house pretty much straight up and down party line vote to repeal obama care, knowing it's dead on arrival in the senate where the democrats run things. >> that's right. we asked the public what they think of that. guess what, as divided as they are in congress are as divided as the american public is. 46% oppose repealing it, 45% favor repealing it and it is ideological. democrats are against it, republicans are for it. it really does split down the middle. >> darn news media have me saying obama care. i get letters every time i do that. >> you will get letters for that. i know what that feels like. it's the obama health care plan. >> go on twitter, you'll see it too. >> media are like that. chuck todd, our political director, thanks as always with the new polling numbers tonight. we have an update on two big
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overseas stories we've been following. first in haiti, news about the former dictator who came back this week after 25 years away in exile. jean-claude duvalier, known as "baby doc" still not clear why he came back. he's facing possible charges for embezzlement and brutality but his lawyer said while he is free to leave the country, he plans to stay there indefinitely. big question mark. in tunisia, after days of street protests, the ousted president told the prime minister today he was considering returning from exile. the prime minister advised against it. back in this country in the city of spokane, washington, the fbi is asking for the public's help to figure out who planted a pipe bomb in a backpack along the route of the city's annual parade honoring the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. our justice correspondent, pete williams, has been following this all day in our washington newsroom. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian,
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investigators say it was a powerful bomb, one clearly designed to kill, but luckily it was spotted and safely disarmed. but now the hunt is on for whoever put it there. it was found monday morning along the planned route of spokane's unity parade on martin luther king day. it was a pipe bomb designed to be detonated with a radio operated remote control. it also included material to act as shrapnel to magnify its potentially lethal effect. it was contained in a swiss army brand backpack wrapped in two t-shirts. one for a local relay race, the other labeled treasure island spring 2009. because the device itself was disarmed, that's giving investigators valuable evidence to work with and they're hoping the pictures of those t-shirts and the backpack itself may jog somebody's memory and produce more tips. the fbi is also offering a $20,000 reward for information about this attempted bombing. it's one that federal agents say could have turned deadly without the alert response of some city
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workers who saw something and said something, brian. >> all right, pete williams on what could have been a major news story out in spokane. pete, thanks. the army said today that despite new efforts to identify soldiers struggling with physical or emotional problems, the suicide rate was up again last year. a story we've covered continually. suicides among national guard troops doubled. the only good news contained in the report really is that suicide among active duty personnel was actually down for the first time in six years. army officials were at a loss to explain the big jump in national guard suicide rates, and said the majority had not been deployed to iraq or afghanistan and had jobs at the time. when our broadcast continues here tonight in just a moment, this isn't just winter, it's a harsh one and it's gearing up to get even worse this week. later, caroline kennedy on the 50th anniversary of her father's inauguration.
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as we said before the break, this isn't just winter, it's a bad one and folks in cities like detroit and chicago have had a season's worth of bad weather in just the past week alone. tonight our eyes are on another storm system about to cover a lot of ground before, again, winding up back east. again we go to meteorologist chris warren at weather channel headquarters in atlanta. chris, good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you, brian. we're talking about the midwest, then the ohio valley and, once again, the northeast. take a look where we are seeing the snow and the clouds this evening. missouri getting hit pretty hard. it's going to eventually head through st. louis tonight and then tomorrow into the ohio valley. let's take a look at the timing right now. you can see the storm, the white on the left-hand side of your screen overnight tonight moving into the ohio valley by tomorrow morning. pittsburgh into the evening hours. and we're talking about 2 to 4 inches of snow and then thursday
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night into friday, places like new york, does this sound familiar, new york to boston, we could see 3 to 5 inches of snow. brian, it's not necessarily the amount of snow that could cause the problems, it looks like it is going to be the timing of the snow, because for the ohio valley we could see the timing would be during the evening commute and then by friday morning in the northeast, the big problem could be the morning commute. >> i know the folks in minnesota are laughing at us. i don't know how to thank you. chris warren, meteorologist at the weather channel. thanks as always, chris. when we come back, a major sports figure who found himself in the news again today.
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lance armstrong and his lawyers tonight are denying an article just published in "sports illustrated" with what the magazine says is new and damning information suggesting armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs. armstrong is the seven-time winner of cycling's most grueling race, the tour de france. tonight he is competing in australia's tour down under. in this city of new york, the empire state building, as you're looking live at it right now, when it's lit up at night
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like that is one of the prettiest sights in all the world. it's our high-rise taj mahal, it's our eiffel tower. but asking a jet pilot to fly by so you can get a better look at it, that's apparently possible only if the jet you're riding in is also carrying the new york jets and the building is lit bright green in their honor. it happened this past sunday night. the jets were on their charter flight coming home from thumping the pats in the playoffs. they asked air traffic control to do a fly-by and the conversation was recorded. >> i've had an unusual request, if this green and white, these guys actually wanted to get as close as we could to see it. >> we will work on that. >> thank you. >> the empire state should be about 11:00 four miles and lit up. >> yeah, we've got 200 people looking at it. >> real pretty night for it too. >> i planned that. >> really appreciate it, guys. >> glad to do it. >> now, officials say there was
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nothing illegal or unsafe about it. they used an established air corridor, all within the controller's discretion, they were happy to do it. but this does mean they owe the new york giants a fly-by the next time empire is lit big blue, the next time they make it to the postseason. we'll take a break. when we come back, images the world has not seen until now of the event that changed history 50 years ago, and our conversation with president kennedy's daughter about her father's legacy.
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♪ that old jack magic had them in his spell ♪ >> the great francis albert sinatra. 50 years ago, the pre-inaugural gala was just about to get under way in washington, in the midst of a huge blizzard. entertainment royalty toasting john f. kennedy. this footage never shown publicly, released by the kennedy library, along with 5bi still photos never seen before tájy tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of kennedy's inauguration, remembered most for the speech he gave and the call to action
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he delivered to all of us. the president's daughter, caroline kennedy schlossberg, sat down with us here exclusively to talk about the anniversary and the impact it continues to have. >> and so, my fellow americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. >> when you think of the speech, does that one line stay with you or do you prefer to think of it as a body of work? >> well, that's obviously the thing that sums it all up, and it has come to sort of encapsulate so many things about his presidency. but i think it's also interesting that it was such an outward looking speech and it really was the beginning of america sort of as a world, as a country involved in the world. and i think my parents both felt that american civilization had come of age and that was
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something that they were incredibly proud of and they really wanted america to lead as a civilization and with our sort of national spirit. >> you said something lovely at the national archives, just your first sentence. all my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives. how do you process that? as an individual, how do you process that? >> well, i think for me it makes me feel like he's present, so i think growing up that was a wonderful thing to have, to feel that so many people felt a connection to him. and so for me when people come up to me at the airport or something even now, people will tell me they were at the inauguration or they got involved because, you know, they heard him speak or they joined the peace corps, i mean that's an amazing thing. for my children it's an amazing thing and it really just shows you how personal history is and how there is this continuity of spirit in america. >> one last question. for any high school seniors who see this on the web or on television, what should they
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take away from the kennedy family name in terms of the meaning of the presidency of john f. kennedy, for all of us who have wondered what it must be like for you to get in a cab and say kennedy airport. what should the family name ideally mean to them? >> well, it's interesting because my children are that age, and i have a high school senior. and so it's been very interesting to watch him become eager to learn about his grandfather. and i think what has inspired him really is learning about the decisions, the service and really the passionate commitment to this country, and i know my son when he listens to the speech, he just goes, "he was such a boss." >> a genuine kennedy schlossberg family moment there. a reminder the kennedy presidency digital archives are online along with a special package of information on this 50th anniversary. we've linked to it for you on
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our website, for us for now that's our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you as always for being here with us. i'm brian williams. as always, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- the bay area's biggest city tries to preempt the cuts. new developments in the search for the abducted little boy. a tip leads police to this canal where a witness told them they saw a car go in. good evening, everyone. we're following


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